Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time
​Application deadline for equal consideration: 15 January 2020

Register now for Open Day on Friday 6 December
Find out more about funding opportunities

The Graduate Diploma is the start of your transition into conservation studies if your undergraduate degree was not in a related field.

An internationally respected metals programme with a practical focus, practical work (75% of the course) is supported by studying the history, conservation theory and material science of objects. You will help organise and undertake work for clients, learn to estimate and tender for work. Seminars, lectures and case studies help you to develop a competitive portfolio and workplace skills.

You can expect

  • A focus on practical skills
  • To develop high level applied craft and conservation skills in metalwork
  • To handle, assess and make proposals for the treatment of a range of objects
  • Theoretical, scientific and analytical study of artefacts and materials

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Purpose designed workshop with access 8.30am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • Access to on-site silversmiths and blacksmithing workshops
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Teaches students to understand and apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation
  • Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions and workshops
  • Group visits to collections, studios and workshops

How to apply

If you would like to apply for this course, please do so through UCAS by 15 January 2020.

If you would like further information please contact our admissions team. Email admission@westdean.org.uk or call +44 (0)1243 818 291.

Apply through UCAS


You will work in our well-equipped metals workshop with individual bench space, a forge and foundry equipped for soldering, brazing and welding, and a tool room. There are areas for microscopy, chemicals, hot work, machining, and photography. There is also access to on-site silversmiths and blacksmithing workshops.

Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment. Shared facilities include:

The on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals within your reach and you can access specialist databases in the IT suite.

Find out more about the facilities

Contact Hours


On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 24 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 6 hours of lectures or demonstrations
  • 1 hour of seminars and peer to peer presentations
  • 14 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 2 hours of external trips and visits (on average)
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study for approximately 13-14 hours per week. Typically, this will involve:

  • Reading journal articles and books
  • Working on individual and group projects
  • Undertaking research in the library
  • Preparing coursework assignments and presentations

Overall workload

Graduate Diploma: 60% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity
Scheduled teaching and learning: 720 hours
Independent learning: 480 hours

Programme structure

Semester 1 (18 weeks)
Study block 1 (12 weeks) Christmas vacation Study block 2 (6 weeks)

Unit G1A

Introducing Professional Practice (40 credits)

Unit G1B

Introducing Conservation Science (10 credits)

Unit G1C

Contextual and Professional Studies 1 (10 credits)

Semester 2 (18 weeks)
Study block 3 (6 weeks) Easter vacation Study block 4 (12 weeks)

Unit G2A

Developing Professional Practice (10 credits)


Unit G3A

Research Through Practice (30 credits)

Unit G2B

Conservation Science: Development and Applications (10 credits)

Unit G2C

Contextual and Professional Studies 2 (10 credits)



Entry Requirements

Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study (e.g. HND. FdA or DipHE) and an interest or experience in object conservation and cultural heritage. Alternatively, accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL) will be considered for those who have been out of formal education for some years and are over 21, who do not meet the general (minimum) entrance requirements, but who can demonstrate their capacity for degree-level work in other ways.

International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.

If you fulfil the entry requirements you will be invited to visit the College for an interview with the programme tutor and another senior member of academic staff, and undertake a practical test if applicable.

Fees and funding

Course fees are the same for UK and international students

  • £4,230 per term (£12,690 per year)

Included is mandatory study trip costs of £400, which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study.

Additional costs

Lunch, accommodation and other living expenses are additional. Find out more


If you are a UK/EU student you may be eligible to apply for a Student Loan (tuition fees and/or maintenance loans) from the Student Loans Company. There are also a variety of Scholarship and Bursary awards available for students who have accepted an offer to study here. Applicants for a scholarship should show outstanding potential and a commitment to their studies and future career in their chosen subject. Applicants for a bursary award are required to demonstrate financial need.

Find out more about funding opportunities


Graduates of the programme usually transition to the MA Conservation Studies. Others pursue entry level positions in the heritage sector. Previous students have gone on to work in organisations
including the British Museum, National Maritime Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Museum of London and various businesses including Plowden and Smith Ltd., Arabesque and Richard Rogers Conservation.

"Prior to attending West Dean, I completed a BS degree in Manufacturing Engineering. Prior to that, I worked professionally as a toolmaker and machinist in the perforating and aerospace industries. I feel that studying conservation will lead to a career where I can combine my background in science and technology with my interests in hand crafts, art and history.

As a student I've had the opportunity to start a blacksmith student society, open to any student interested in the traditional art of blacksmithing and utilising the college's forge workshop.

I am looking forward to my summer position working as a conservation specialist focusing on operational artefacts for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Daniel Ravizza, Graduate Diploma, Conservation of Metalwork


Dr Eric Nordgren AFHEA

Subject Leader

Dr Eric Nordgren brings over 20 years' experience as a metals conservator working with museums, universities, heritage agencies and private practice in the UK and around the world. He is active in the Icon Metals and Heritage Science groups, and is an associate member of AIC, ICOM-CC and the Historical Metallurgy Society.

Grant McCaig

Subject Leader FdA Metalwork

Grant McCaig is an internationally recognised Silversmith and educator. His work is in several major collections including National Museums of Scotland, the Goldsmiths' Company, Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and Aberdeen Art Gallery. He has taught in Japan and Colombia, is a selector for Cockpit Arts and mentor for the Crafts Council.

Program advisors

  • Richard Rogers: Richard Rogers Conservation
  • Alistair Dickenson: specialist in precious metalwork
  • Sophy Wills - Royal Collection

Open Day - register today

Come and find out what makes West Dean College of Arts and Conservation such an amazing place to study. Explore the studios, take a tour with students, discuss your study options, and find out about funding at our next Open Day on:

Friday 6 December 2019

Register your place and find out more